Want massive NZ aerial imagery or map data?

Sunday, May 4th, 2014 | Richard White | No Comments

Last week Land Information NZ (LINZ) – which has been leading the way in open access government data for some time – announced they were releasing even more open data into the wild. Their data service now incorporates terrain, street maps and satellite imagery.

Screen shot of LINZ web siteCC BY – LINZ Data Service


There’s literally terabytes of it, covering around 95% of the country, which you can download or, if you need more than 3GB, have couriered to you.  In a press statement Land information minister Maurice Williamson said:

“Releasing publicly held aerial imagery for reuse has the potential to create cost savings for the public sector and generate economic benefits for the private sector. Imagery can be used to improve productivity in agriculture and forestry, and can be used in construction, engineering, disaster recovery planning, and land and asset management. Making aerial imagery available is in line with the government’s goal to make more publicly held data accessible to as many people as possible.”

It also means whenever you have a student asking  where they can get a map or overhead image of somewhere in New Zealand, you’ll know where to send them for an open access one.

Otago-led Open Access Media Studies textbook goes live

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 | Richard White | 1 Comment

{Media release from the Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ website, CC BY}

The Media Text Hack Group is proud to release v1 of the hacked Media Studies Textbook, following a highly successful remote collaboration with participants from across New Zealand and Australia.

The project was spearheaded by Dr Erika Pearson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media, Film and Communication University of Otago. As Pearson explains, “the textbook is designed to be used by students in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific. To this end, the textbook includes nearly fifty entries on a range of topics and issues common to curricula across the region.”

“We’ve also released the text book under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. This means that educators and students can adapt and rewrite the textbook using their own examples and explanations, without having to ask our permission in advance.”

Inspired by similar projects around the world, and supported by funding from Creative Commons, the Media Text Hack Group sought to act as ‘curators’ of the vast array of information about media and communication, and drew together examples specific to the region.

The text can be read linearly, like a book, and the online format also means that readers can also dive in and out of sections as they wish, following hypertext links across the material and out to useful information across the web.

As Richard White, Copyright Officer at the University of Otago, puts it, “This is a real 21st century textbook – I hesitate to even use that word – that harnesses the power of the web to break out of the print model we’ve had for the last several hundred years. It’s open access, which means a lot of different things: it’s free; anyone can read it, use it, adapt it; it’s also open to wider scrutiny, which helps improve it over time.”

This first release represents a core of work based on the common curricula of media and communication studies programs across the region. It is hoped that future versions will develop and expand these areas, as well as take advantage of new tools of collaboration and sharing. All are welcome to take, use, recycle and adapt the material under the Creative Commons Attribution licence.

“It’s great to see an initiative like this coming out of the Humanities, where most similar examples have been in Science disciplines,” says White.

“Erika’s team have really achieved something wonderful here. As far as we know this is the first initiative of its kind in NZ, and in this discipline, perhaps even the world.”

This release will soon be followed by a ‘cookbook’ which will discuss the process of developing the book.

As Pearson puts it, “this cookbook will hopefully guide and inspire others to produce their own open educational resources. Open textbooks ensure that educational resources are accessible, affordable and reusable, helping communities to realise the goal of enabling universal access to education.”

This first release can be accessed at: http://mediatexthack.wordpress.com

Openly licensing your teaching materials (OSCoP, 14 October at 1pm)

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 | Richard White | No Comments

In the next Open Scholarship Open Scholarship Community of Practice, Fieke Neuman from Anatomy will be joining us to discuss the plan to share Anatomy-specific teaching resources with other institutions over the Web using Creative Commons. Please come along and join in the discussion and bring a colleague/friend!

Otago Open Scholarship Community of Practice
October 14, 1pm
Central Library Conference Room 3
Audio-conference: dial (1) 083044, enter PIN 136363 then press #

Glue jar: “give books to the world”


Gluejar is an innovative approach to digital publishing that uses Crowdfunding to “unglue” in-copyright books for distribution under a creative commons license.

This is a model that ensures that creators are still financially rewarded for their efforts, while releasing a free, legal digital edition of their book that can be read and shared worldwide.

In Beta at:

For more information, go to:

2013 NZ Report into the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government

Friday, June 21st, 2013 | MARK MCGUIRE | 2 Comments

From “An Opal Dream Cave” by Jem Yoshioka CC-BY-SA (reusing Katherine Mansfield’s poem)

As the Press Release says, “Open data benefits public and economy“. The “2013 report on adoption of the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government” was released by the Honourable Chris Tremain on June 17. It documents how well government agencies in New Zealand are adapting the declaration, which encourages the release of high value public data for reuse. Twenty six (84%) of government departments now include the Declaration in their core business plan or intend to do so next year (up from 72% in 2012). The Cabinet approved the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing (NZGOAL) framework on 5 July 2010 to provide guidelines for agencies to follow when releasing material under a licence that enables it to be reused by others. Since that time, progress has been very good. A directory of publicly-available, non-personal New Zealand government held datasets can be found at data.govt.nz. A list of open data case studies shows the wide variety of ways in which others have made good use of data that the government has made available. These include the Wellington Interactive Map Viewer, the Tongariro Pocket Ranger and CamperMate smart phone applications, and many other innovative products and services that effectively and productively reuse data that has been collected by the New Zealand government and released under an open licence. The New Zealand Creative Commons Website also has an excellent set of case studies that describe how Creative Commons licences have been applied to a wide range of government material. One good role model is the The Ministry for Culture and Heritage, which has published a wealth of public resources online using a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence. As Matthew Oliver, the manager of the Ministry’s Web team says:

The more we could get our content used, the more we justify our work. By making our content available for reuse, we show that our content is important, that there is a need.

It is worth keeping this quote in mind as we engage in the important work that we do in higher education.



Who pays for Open Access Publishing? Video and audio discussions now on-line

Monday, June 18th, 2012 | Richard White | No Comments

Video and audio material from the Open Publishing seminar, the first in Otago’s 2012 Open Minds series held in February, is now on-line, ahead of our second session on Open Educational Resources on 28 June.

“We’re gonna be payin’ double for a while,” suggested one participant in our first Open Minds seminar, which focused on open publishing. After listening to presentations from Natalia Timiraos of open access publisher BioMed Central (Open Access Publishing – how it works, how it evolves) and from Jane Hornibrook, Public Lead of Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ  (Creative Commons licensing in open scholarship), participants grappled with the issue of who pays for open access to publications, especially with the current co-existence of traditional and open access publishing models.

Some bemoaned the fact that many open access models simply transfer cost from commercial publisher to author – meaning the public would still pay for access, just through a different system (though a new model has since been announced, as blogged below). Others considered the role that the library has to play, given that it currently pays for access to e-resources. Ultimately the general consensus was that we are in a transitional phase and we can’t see exactly what we’ll end up with. One participant argued that the transition would transform the research culture of universities because the internet is forcing us to re-think “the very fundamental question of what we are here to do…how can we now reach this objective in a more efficient, cost-effective, sustainable manner using these new technologies that we didn’t have before” (listen to the whole conversation here).

All the content is licenced CC BY-SA. Thanks to our guest speakers Natalia and Jane for allowing this re-use of their material.